The Reason Why the Church Needs to Be Reformed
The church is in continual need of reform, but not because Christ’s atoning work is incomplete or because God’s Word is unclear. In this brief clip, W. Robert Godfrey reminds us why reformation is an ongoing necessity.
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We’re beginning a new topic today, and the topic is “The necessity of reforming the church, then and now.” And we’re taking that title largely from John Calvin. Calvin’s good for so many things. Stealing a title is another good thing to do. John Calvin wrote a treatise, about 120 pages, titled The Necessity of Reforming the Church. And we’ll talk about why he wrote it and why he wrote it the way he wrote it. But it seems to me that it is a helpful treatise to get us thinking about the church, the importance of the church, the centrality of the church. We all remember that Christ said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Establishing the church as the very center and heart of what Christ was setting out to do in His redeeming work. Jesus is gathering a people. Jesus is creating a new humanity, and that is the church that He is building. And when you look at the history of the church, you very soon discover that, over and over again, the church needs to be reformed. The church needs to be reordered, renewed, revived, restructured, reshaped, all the “re-”s. “Re” comes from Latin, meaning “again.” Well, we have to do this again. We have to form it again. We have to make it new again. And this is a continuing need, not because Christ’s work wasn’t finished and perfect, not because God’s Word isn’t clear in directing the church, but because—and this will come as a terrible shock to you—the church is composed of sinners. You probably never knew that, but it’s true. The church is composed of sinners, and sinners not only get things wrong morally, but they get things wrong intellectually and theologically and liturgically and ecclesiastically and every other kind of “-ly.” It’s a problem that the church is constantly going off track.